Who dances at a metal gig? We metalheads are supposed to be dark, brooding, nocturnal bastards who are both scared by and in rebellion of anything mainstream, boogieing included. Yet Sound Control’s shadowy basement, with its bare brick walls and raw, dilapidated finish – which is oddly homely – is practically bouncing tonight. Hair is flung every which way, hips shake, drinks held above dancing, snaking figures; Torche’s dirgy guitar tones and sugary, sweet vocals have created a fucking party.
The Miami band have such a unique sound, it’s dirty sludge yet cleanly pop at the same time and their music simply infects everyone in this underground venue. The band’s chemistry and charisma bleeds out from the stage and onto the dance floor before them as, with their set time limited, they smash through as many cuts as possible without so much as taking a breath. From ‘Piraña’s’ hammer blow grooves it’s an all-out unapologetic riff fest which ignites the room.
‘No Servants’, one of new album ‘Restarter’s’ most prolific efforts makes an early appearance. Feedback is utilised mesmerically while sticks man Rick Smith keeps a plodding, hypnotic beat. But then the riff comes in, graceful and supple and it cuts you so damn emotionally.
I mean, there’s just something about their filthy riffs that unite people and tonight everyone is your friend. ‘Believe It’s’ lead weight grandeur and ‘Kicking’s’ almost pop punk aesthetics make a fine one-two as the band rifle through a set list which references a career’s worth of earth shaking and heartstring plucking across a 22 song long set. These are songs which have captured so many; they’re both oppressive in their heaviness and uplifting in their execution, particularly Steve Brook’s bellowed vocals which are in absolutely excellent fettle tonight.
Half of tonight’s songs don’t even clock in at two minutes. These are condensed and superbly penned compositions which cram as much fun, frolics and grumbling riffs that resemble the sound of a giant rudely awoken from its slumber as some bands have across an entire album. ‘Vampyro,’ the frantic head fuck of ‘Sky Trials’ and the weighty ‘Undone’ are fitting examples of that double concentrated blast. Songs like the meandering stoner venture that is ‘Restarter’s’ title track however, a song which has an almost Hawkwind-esque manner to it thanks to its psychedelic edge, inject a punchy variety to proceedings. They’ve managed the peaks and troughs of their set list like the seasoned pros they are; they know when to roll with the punches and, more so, they know when to strike that knockout blow which sends you into a heap on the venue’s booze-soaked stone floor.
They end with the belting ‘Blasted’ and the fuzz explosions of ‘Annihilation Affair,’ leaving you stranded in a crossfire of riffs, tar brushed tonalities and genteel vocals. Yet, as the bullets fly through you, you stand there and immerse yourself within its joyous lethality. You sink into a reverie while the decibels quiver and collapse.
Everything seems so quiet outside. It’s an early finish due to a club night and for 10pm on a Friday night things seem eerie. Then you realise. Then you notice. Things are loud, things are busy and bustling, but you can hear fuck all but reverberating feedback in your punctured ears. By Christ it was so worth it though.
Words: Phil Weller